Center for Progressive Reform


Protecting Against Severe Environmental Hazards

Recognizing the often hidden hazards posed by toxic chemicals that pervade our lives, Congress has enacted a variety of laws designed to protect people and the environment from both short- and long-term health problems. The Superfund legislation aims to ensure that polluters pay for contaminating land and water. The Toxic Substances Control Act requires EPA to review all new chemicals before they go on the market. And a patchwork of other federal laws address toxic chemicals as they are released into the air and water, applied to crops to fight pests, or added to consumer products. Despite the efforts of Congress and government agencies, those who profit from introducing hazardous pollutants into the environment lobby hard to prevent stiff regulatory enforcement and distort scientific evidence of harm.

CPR Member Scholars' work in this area includes research and analysis related to the federal government's IRIS database, Superfund, BPA, the Toxics Substances Control Act, and more.


TSCA 'Reforms' Designed to Please Polluters

For decades, corporations intent on avoiding accountability for the illness and injuries their products sometimes cause have waged a fierce campaign against citizen access to state and federal courts. Now they've got a new gambit: a federal bill that effectively alters the rules of evidence in state courts.

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Hijacking the Push for a Stronger TSCA

Protections against the dangers of toxic chemicals include federal law (the Toxic Substances Control Act), as well as state regulation and state and federal civil justice systems. TSCA needs an update, and industry is hoping to use that process to weaken the other two legs of the framework.

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Protecting Against BPA

The endocrine disruptor BPA can be found in baby bottles, water bottles, and in the resin lining of food and beverage cans. Federal action to protect Americans from its potential harm has been achingly slow. CPR Member Scholars propose solutions in the form of a federal action plan.

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EPA's IRIS: A Database with Blind Spots

EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database is woefully inadequate, out of date, outdated, incomplete and ineffective, according to a report from the Center for Progressive Reform.

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Better Living Through Greener Chemistry

Congress created the Superfund program to drive the cleanup of more than 1,000 sites across the nation that had been polluted with toxic wastes. But after the Gingrich Revolution, Congress let lapse the principal funding mechanism -- a tax on the industries whose toxic pollution poisoned the sites. Predictably, cleanups have slowed to a crawl, endangering public health in the areas surrounding toxic waste sites. The problem came into particularly bold relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when it was revealed that several still-polluted Superfund sites had been flooded.

Other efforts to combat toxic pollution are important, too. One vital initiative is the federal government's Toxic Release Inventory, a compilation of industry-reported toxic emissions that can serve as a valuable tool for policymakers and regulatory enforcement efforts. 

Another significant toxics issue has to do with what we don’t know about toxics. Many Americans would be surprised to discover that most of the chemicals used in commerce have never been adequately tested for safety. CPR Member Scholars have worked both to illuminate and overcome the resulting “data gap.”

Cozy Chemicals

In September 2012, CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor and Policy Analyst Waydin Radin published a white paper exposing the work of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) and Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), two industry advocacy groups that have undue influence on the regulation of toxic chemicals. The two firms specialize in a particularly insidious brand of “dirty” science by recruiting EPA experts to co-author papers and participate in policy-making workshops that are heavily biased toward manufacturer interests. 

Read about CPR Member Scholars’ work on toxics and Superfund:


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